More Thoughts on Your Essays

Today's blog post is from Kathryn Miller, an independent educational consultant based in Englewood , CO,  who specializes in the college search and application process. A graduate of Northwestern University, Miller also received  a certificate in Educational Consulting from the University of California. You can learn more about Kathryn and her services at
Kathryn Miller

Kathryn Miller

Colleges want to get to know you as a person, in addition to your grades, test scores and activities. Essay writing, along with the entire college search process, is a time for self-discovery and reflection. It isn’t always easy to think about yourself in this way, but it can help you define what you are looking for in a school and what you will bring to a college community. Your essay is your opportunity to tell YOUR STORY. It lets them understand who you are, what you care about, and what is truly unique about YOU. Here are 10 more essay tips to keep in mind:

1. Write about what you know. Your topic may not be unique, but your approach and understanding of it is all your own.

2. Write about what you love. What motivates you? You are not just your resume. You have chosen to participate in activities or to learn new things for a reason.

3. Begin with the end in mind. Steven Covey coined this phrase in his popular book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”  Why are you telling this story? When someone reads your essay, what will they have learned about you?

4. Get their attention. Admissions people read hundreds, even thousands, of essays every year. They may be reading yours late at night after a long day of traveling. Grab the reader’s attention right away so that they want to know more about you.

5. Be honest. You may feel vulnerable by disclosing a characteristic or situation that was uncomfortable or you may want to embellish the truth. You need to be admitted to a college for who you are, so don’t be tempted to change that.

6. Answer the question. The Common Application’s Personal Essay gives you six choices, including “topic of your choice” to write about. The Short Answer gives you the opportunity to elaborate on your activities or work. The individual college supplements may challenge you with different questions, so read them thoughtfully before you write.

7. Read your essay out loud. Your essay should demonstrate your Own Voice. Does it really sound like you and who you really are? If you are funny, does that come across? If you aren’t funny, are you trying too hard?

8. Write.  Read.  Edit.  Repeat. If you are reading this, you are starting your essay in plenty of time to find the best topic and write about it in a way that really stands out. Don’t rush the process. It will take time, but you will be happier with the results!

9. Get help when you need it. Early in the process, you may want to ask your family and friends for stories about you or observations they may have. After you have worked on writing what you know is a good essay, ask your parent or teacher to read it for feedback only if you are willing to accept constructive criticism.

10. And, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you to…. Keep word or character limits under control (more is not better); spell check; grammar check; quote check; fact check; college name check; and don’t use too many semi-colons!

Students Have More Options When Applying to College Next Year

Having more options is a good thing as long as you plan ahead.

Harvard and Princeton recently disclosed that they are reinstating their early-admissions programs for next year, giving students a few more options in the fall when applying to college. While Harvard and Princeton attempted to attract a more diverse applicant pool by doing away with early-admission programs, it turned out in fact to have the opposite effect. With economic pressures continuing to mount, many students want to find out their options as early as possible, and to compare financial aid packages whenever possible.

No matter whether you are planning to apply early decision to one college or early action to a few, make sure to plan out your whole list and to have your essays ready to go. With significant increases in applications to top schools, and a high percentage of those applications coming in early, competition for early-admission programs is even more fierce, leaving many scrambling to get their regular decision applications in on time after getting rejected or deferred ED.

College Essay Organizer can help you to organize everything in advance, so you know what to expect early in the game and don’t wind up slammed if you find out in December that you didn’t get into your top choice. Just so you get an idea of just how many essays you could be left to write in a lurch, check out our FREE Essay RoadMap preview.

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